ADHD impulsivity; Zoë Kessler gets a doctor, surgery, and an ADHD diagnosisIt’s not often I look back on my cringe-worthy episodes of impulsivity with gratitude. I admit though, that one or two incidents of impulsive behavior served me well. One got me the medical attention I needed (and I stress the word attention).

The lump on my middle toe appeared overnight. I knew what it was: a giant cell tumor (benign). I’d had one before, on my finger.

The one on my toe had grown so large I was worried that soon my foot wouldn’t fit into my shoe. The problem was, I didn’t have a family doctor, which meant I couldn’t get a referral to a surgeon. Fortunately, fate (plus a giant nudge from impulsivity) intervened.

I’d been browsing the shelves at my friend Jen’s* bookstore when a stranger walked in.

Who’s that? I asked Jen, noticing that this tall handsome stranger was, well, handsome.

“That’s James*,”  said Jen from behind the cash register. “James Anderson. He moved here about 3 weeks ago.”

James, a frequent customer and friend of Jen’s, approached before I could ask any penetrating and possibly inappropriate questions. Damn.

“Hey, James, meet my friend Zoë.”

I was about to ask where he’d moved from when Jen said, “James is our new doctor. You must have heard…”

Doctor? Did she say doctor?

An invisible switch flipped in my brain.

ADHD Diagnostic Checklist
Up came my leg. Down came my foot with a satisfying thud, accompanied by a loud clanking from the rattling cash register.

In my peripheral vision, I saw an elderly woman’s head snap up at the resounding sound that shattered the bookstore’s quiet. Her eyes widened as my eight-hole Doc Martin lodged itself on the polished cash counter, a pool of melting snow beginning to form.

I unlaced my boot, tugged it off and dropped it to the carpeted floor. I rolled my pant leg up to my knee. Off came my work sock, which I tossed to the floor in the vicinity of my smelly winter boot.

Whaddaya think of that? I said, pointing to the bump on my toe. My foot glowed white as an iceberg, floating on the gleaming wood.

What do I need to do to get some surgery around here? Look at that thing. It’s getting bigger every day! Can you help me here or what?


Poor Jen. It didn’t occur to me that I was making a spectacle of myself in her store.

“Call me in the morning.”

I’m pretty sure, in hindsight, this little incident helped seal the deal.

 James became my family doctor, booking my surgical appointment within two weeks. Years later, he diagnosed me with ADHD. I’m pretty sure, in hindsight, this little incident helped seal the deal.

Impulsivity? Check.

While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend outlandish behavior as a way to get what you want, in this case, at least I had less ‘splainin’ to do when I approached my family doc, several years later, seeking an ADHD diagnosis.

It was only after my diagnosis and ADHD treatment that I clued in to how outlandish my behavior had been. Perhaps too late, I apologized to Jen for any embarrassment I might have caused her.

And I’m sure it’s a total coincidence that her shop closed down not long after. Coincidence. Totally.

*Names have been changed to keep me out of the dog house!


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    Last reviewed: 21 Sep 2012

APA Reference
Kessler, Z. (2012). ADHD Impulsivity: My Counter Demand. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 27, 2015, from


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